September 19, 2013
Lufthansa has placed a large order for both the Boeing 777-9X and the Airbus A350-900, in an effort to replace some of the older aircraft in its long-haul fleet.
The airline’s supervisory board approved the deal at a meeting on Wednesday, committing to 34 777-9Xs and 25 A350-900s. The first A350s are due for delivery in 2016, and the first 777X is expected to arrive in the Lufthansa fleet in 2020. Lufthansa says it has the flexibility through options and purchase rights to increase the 777X order to 64 units and the A350 commitment to 55 aircraft.
Lufthansa plans to replace 13 747-400s and 17 A340-300s. Should the airline decide to cut capacity plans further, it would also start retiring its fleet of 24 A340-600s. The airline has laid out a baseline scenario which sees it grow long-haul capacity by 3% a year, and a more conservative approach would bring that down to 1%. If 25 options are exercised, the carrier could grow by 5% a year.
The order is for the core airline only, but the group could use options to renew the long-haul fleets at Swiss or Austrian if needed. As part of the deal, Lufthansa has also reached “strategic agreements” to be allowed to perform maintenance on the General Electric GE9X, and with Rolls-Royce for the TrentXWB engines.
Lufthansa plans to operate the A350-900 and 777-9X in two-class and three class configurations. Both aircraft would be operated from the Frankfurt and Munich bases.
The airline’s future long-haul fleet will consist of A380s, 747-8s, 777-9Xs, A350-900s and A330-300s, once all of its A340s are phased out. But that will be a multi-year process as the replacement program is scheduled to last until 2025.
The carrier decided not to order the 787 for a variety of reasons. “The 787-9 is too small for our requirements and the 787-10 does not have the necessary range for around 40% of the destinations,” says Carsten Spohr, CEO of the passenger airline division.
Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz expects his airline to become one of the very early operators of the 777X. The carrier is the first to sign a firm order for the aircraft, which is still not formally launched. That step is widely expected to occur at the Dubai Air Show, which starts Nov. 17, and is likely to be based on further orders including a large Emirates commitment.
Lufthansa says it now has a firm order backlog of 295 aircraft, worth €36 billion ($48.8 billion) at list prices.